Seattle’s Mayor, Jenny Durkan, announced a new interim director, for the city department of transportation (SDOT), Linea Laird. Urbanist twitter was aghast at this choice to lead SDOT as Laird’s most recent project was the state highway 99 replacement: a tunnel with no downtown exits is useless for freight or transit. “Why are we choosing a car focused person to lead SDOT during the period of maximum constraint? It must be because the mayor only cares about cars!” – urbanist twitter. Alternately, the mayor may have just picked someone competent without noticing the message it sends. But I take this as a chance to remind everyone what we should be doing, even if the mayor seems uninterested. Our constraints force us to make hard choices.
Seattle’s Department of Transportation (SDOT) put up a new speed limit map last week. Seattle had a couple of years ago changed local law so that default speed limits for arterials was lowered to 25 mph and non-arterials was lowered to 20 mph. But, it will take a long time to officially change all roads because the process described to me in email involved evaluating a handful of urban village streets per year. But after looking at the data a bit and confirming there are large differences in speed limits across districts, I think a better and more equitable process would be to just lower nearly all arterial streets (per the intent of the law), then measure speeds and impacts, and adjust as needed.
It’s 2032. The Mayor of Seattle – in 2032 a woman of color being mayor will be almost unremarkable – stands before the city council and distinguished guests to announce the completion of a program that marks Seattle officially becoming carbon neutral. While Seattle couldn’t control all of its carbon emissions directly, we discovered that the vast majority were under our control and what little was left were fixed by state level action or by offsetting. Seattle, in 2032, led the nation in hitting its targets ahead of schedule, helping to make it more likely the United States as a whole would be carbon neutral by 2035 and allowing the world to hold the line to a difficult, but not disastrous, increase in global temperature.